Rap and ego

The Minneapolis underground rapper Prof plays the Varsity

Conrad Schoenleber

If ego were talent, Prof would be the best in Minneapolis.

âÄúTen years ago I thought I was the shit, and I was, a lot of these other new rappers are these days too, but I still am,âÄù he said.

His website goes even further when describing âÄúKaiser Von Powderhorn 2,âÄù his latest EP, saying âÄúeach track reinforces ProfâÄôs status as the best Twin Cities MC.âÄù A heady boast for a mostly unknown rapper, Prof does make high-energy, party-friendly music.

Growing up in Minneapolis, Prof was only partially influenced by other Minneapolis artists. âÄúI was affected by that whole Rhymesayers stuff, itâÄôs hard not to. But I was more influenced by top-40 radio and down South and East Coast.âÄù

HeâÄôs unapologetic about his âÄúget stupid, partyâÄù mentality that, while sophomoric, is undeniably entertaining.

âÄúIf youâÄôre within the first 10 to 15 rows at a show, thatâÄôs a crazy place to be,âÄù he said. âÄúIf you really want to go bananas, have beer, water thrown at you, have me jump at you, have other people jump around, you know, you can expect that.âÄù

Released in March 2010, âÄúKaiser Von Powderhorn 2âÄù is ProfâÄôs most polished work thus far. ItâÄôs a playful album filled with ego and clever punch lines, yet it leaves something to be desired. ItâÄôs a solid album with standout moments, but also some that are just bizarre.

The opener, âÄúStepping Out,âÄù begins with solid turntablism from MinneapolisâÄô own DJ Fundo, a member of the Get Cryphy crew. The beat and scratching ground the song, but ProfâÄôs delivery is bewildering. Motown samples usually work, but things fall apart once Prof starts scatting. He simply doesnâÄôt have the vocal chops to pull it off.

After the questionable opener, things pick up quite a bit. One of the albumâÄôs best moments is âÄúAnimal.âÄù Prof paws his way over a beat so packed with âÄúheys,âÄù LilâÄô Jon would be jealous. Animal puns abound in the tune: âÄúIâÄôm heavy as a hippopoto that hit the lotto / blast off to Apollo / thatâÄôs the motto.âÄù ItâÄôs the type of silly song that finds a comfortable home on the dance floor, which is exactly what Prof intended.

âÄúI just wanted to make dance club bangers,âÄù he said.

The album gets a little bit more serious with what is easily its strongest song, âÄúFigured Out.âÄù Prof launches into a tirade against âÄúfake people.âÄù âÄúIt takes a little bit to figure you out / you are broken / you are flat / you are weak,âÄù he rails. A trippy background of bells and synths along with blasting 808s, the beat alone marks this track as a high-quality production. ProfâÄôs surprisingly delicate harmony over this creates one hell of a tune. Prof may pretend to be all bravado and hardened exterior, but âÄúFigured OutâÄù tells otherwise.

Prof is an entertainer, not an intellectual. He enjoys turning off his mind and turning on the party.